In terms of the number of speakers and dominance, the most prominent of the languages of Spain is
Spanish (Castilian), spoken by about 99% of Spaniards as a first or second language.
 Catalan (or Valencian) is spoken by 19%, Galician by 5%, and Basque by 2% of the population.
Distribution of the regional co-official languages in Spain:
Aranese, co-official in
 It is spoken mainly in the
comarca of the
Aran Valley (Val d'Aran), in north-western
Catalonia. It is a variety of
Gascon, which in turn is a variety of the
Basque, co-official in the
Basque-speaking zone). Basque is the only non-
Romance language (as well as non-
Indo-European) with an official status in mainland Spain.
Catalan, co-official in Catalonia, the
Balearic Islands and, as a distinct variant (
Valencian), in the
. It is recognised—but not official—in
La Franja). Furthermore, it is also spoken without official recognition in the municipality of
Galician, co-official in
Galicia. It is also spoken without official recognition in the adjacent western parts of the
Principality of Asturias and
Castile and León.
Spanish is official throughout the country; the rest of these languages have legal and co-official status in their respective communities, and (except Aranese) are widespread enough to have daily newspapers and significant book publishing and media presence in those communities. In the cases of Catalan and Galician, they are the main languages used by the Catalan and Galician regional governments and local administrations. A number of citizens in these areas consider their regional language as their primary language and Spanish as secondary.
The vernacular languages of Spain: areas of highest density
In addition to these, there are a number of seriously endangered and recognised minority languages:
Spanish itself also has distinct dialects around the country; for example, the
Canarian dialects, each of these with their own subvarieties, some of them being partially closer to the Spanish of the
Americas, which they heavily influenced at different degrees, depending on the regions or periods, and according to different and non-homogeneous migrating or colonisation processes.
Five very localised dialects are of difficult filiation:
Fala, a nearly extinct variety of its own mostly adscribed to the Galician-Portuguese group;
Extremaduran, two Astur-Leonese dialects also regarded as Spanish dialects;
Eonavian, a dialect between Asturian and Galician, closer to the latter according to several linguists; and
Ribagorçan dialect that was formerly classified as Catalan, later as Aragonese, and which is now often regarded as a transitional language of its own. Asturian and Leonese are closely related to the local
Mirandese which is spoken on an adjacent territory but over the border into
Portugal. Mirandese is recognised and has some local official status.
With the exception of Basque, which appears to be a
language isolate, all of the languages present in mainland Spain are
Indo-European languages, specifically
Afro-Asiatic languages, such as
Arabic (including Ceuta
Riffian), are spoken by the Muslim population of
Melilla and by recent immigrants (mainly from Morocco and Algeria) elsewhere.
Portuguese and Galician
Galicia, the mutual relationship between
Portuguese has caused some controversy, since some linguists, such as Lindley Cintra,
 consider that they are still dialects of a common language, in spite of the differences in phonology and vocabulary (see
Others, such as Pilar Vázquez Cuesta,
 argue that they have become separate languages due to major differences in phonetics and vocabulary usage, and, to a lesser extent, morphology and syntax.
In any case, the respective written standards are noticeably different one from another, partly because of the divergent phonological features and partly due to the usage of Spanish orthographic conventions over the Portuguese ones at the time of Galician
standardisation by the early 20th century.
The official (delegated onto both the
Galician Language Institute and the
Royal Galician Academy standard) and widespread position is that Galician and Portuguese should be considered independent languages.
Galician-Portuguese-based dialect known as
Fala is locally spoken in an area sometimes called Valley of Jálama/Xálima, which includes the towns of
San Martín de Trevejo (Sa Martin de Trevellu),
Eljas (As Elhas) and
Valverde del Fresno (Valverdi du Fresnu), in the northwestern corner of
Portuguese proper is still spoken by local people in three border areas: